The first time I ever laid eyes on a glorious French press coffeemaker was in England--of all places. We were having breakfast in a hotel in London, and I was eating a profoundly overcooked fried egg while staring bleakly at the dried-looking banger sitting next to it.
Worse, I was trying to figure out how I would survive an entire day of bad food and brown teeth on just a lousy cup of tea.
I was in that very state of unbridled optimism when someone put a glass carafe next to me with a kind of a plunger thing sticking out of it. I looked up from my shriveled banger and saw that it appeared to be filled with coffee!
I stared at it for a moment in a state of mild fear and suspicion. Somehow in my pre-caffeinated haze, I figured out that I needed to push the plunger down.
I then poured myself a cup of coffee that was so good that for a very brief moment I forgot I was in England.
On my next birthday, my wonderful in-laws bought me one of my own that I now use all the time.
French press fans know that the paper filters used in automatic drip coffeemakers will strip out many of the oils and other flavor enhancers in coffee. Coffee made in a French press leaves 'em in. The result is a richer, stronger and slightly foamy coffee that is absolutely delicious.
Instead of spending a lot of time explaining how to use a French press, let me instead refer you to one of the best tutorials out there. Scroll to the bottom third of the page to see particularly clear photo instructions.
But let me emphasize three quick points:
1) It is critical that you use a very coarsely ground coffee with a French press. Fine grounds will slip through the wire or mesh filter. The result will be a coffee that I can only describe as “furry” tasting. And even with a coarse grind, you’ll always see some coffee sediment in the bottom of your cup. That's Laura’s favorite part by the way.
2) This is the type of French press we use* (see below for a graphical link to Amazon). It's more expensive (the best kind to receive as a gift...), and it has the distinct advantage of not being made of glass. Here is the more traditional style of French press* (again, see below for a graphical link).
3) I do not measure out the coffee. Ever. It doesn't matter whether I'm using a French press or whether I'm using our regular drip coffeemaker. I feel that coffee measured carefully indicates a life lived unspontaneously. So I just dump some in. And then dump some more in. And then dump a tiny bit more in just in case. We like our coffee strong around here.
* Please note: if you buy one of the items from Amazon using the links provided, I will receive a small affiliate fee.